What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, May 28, 2010 by Intern
by intern Christine Binder
The Food Movement, Rising – New York Review of Books
Michael Pollan’s epic essay charting the emergence and character of the food movement.
Oil reaches Louisiana shores (PHOTOS) – Boston Globe
Over one month after the initial explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, crude oil continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico, and oil slicks have slowly reached as far as 12 miles into Louisiana’s marshes.
Congresscritters Come Out Against GE Alfalfa – La Vida Locavore
Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Pat Leahy are circulating a letter to Tom Vilsack opposing the USDA’s decision regarding GE alfalfa.
Ohio Farmers Unhappy With Attack on Corn Sweetener – Associated Press
Food companies that remove high-fructose corn syrup from their products threaten the jobs of farmers in Ohio, the nation’s No. 7 grower of corn, state agriculture leaders say.
The Slaughterhouse Problem: is a resolution in sight? – Food Politics
After years of hearing sad tales about the slaughterhouse problem, it looks like many people are trying to get it resolved.
A Movable Beast – NY Times
Organic, grass-fed meat is much in demand in Manhattan restaurants, but little of it is local.
Ohio dairy farm worker charged with animal cruelty – Washington Post
An Ohio dairy farm worker has been charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals after a welfare group released a video it says shows him and others beating cows with crowbars and pitchforks.
In E. Coli Fight, Some Strains Are Largely Ignored – NY Times
As everyone focused on controlling E. coli O157:H7, the six rarer strains of toxic E. coli were largely ignored.
DC rejects soda tax but funds better school food – Grist
The Washington, D.C. city council yesterday agreed to fully fund a recently approved “Healthy Schools” initiative but not with a controversial “soda tax” as had been proposed. Rather, the city will begin imposing a more traditional sales tax of 6 percent on all soft drinks sold in the District.
Michelle Obama applauds food industry group’s pledge to trim calories – Washington Post
In a direct response to Michelle Obama’s declared war on childhood obesity, an alliance of major food manufacturers on Monday pledged to introduce new, more healthful options, cut portion sizes and trim calories in existing products.
Posted on Mon, May 10, 2010 by Slow Food USA
It’s hard to keep track of all the food and farming news each week – especially if you’re a busy Slow Food volunteer. Our staff has begun compiling all the important food news we see, so Slow Food members can stay up-to-date. Here’s last week’s big news:
Monsanto pesticide-poisons give rise to “superweeds”Rise of the Superweeds (NY Times)
Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds. To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.
And in response…NYT’s superweeds coverage is welcome but myopic (Grist)
It’s a happy day when the New York Times treads some of Grist’s well-worn paths. This time, it’s about how overuse of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has given rise to “superweeds” and an exhausting chemical treadmill.
Food & Farm Policy
VIDEO - Veggies Gone Wild! (Human Rights Watch)
Hundreds of thousands of children are employed as farmworkers in the United States. They often work 10 or more hours a day with sharp tools, heavy machinery, and dangerous pesticides. Farmworker children drop out of school in alarming numbers.Senators Challenge Know Your Farmer Program (Ag Law)
Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia, Ranking Minority member of the Senate Agriculture Committee), John McCain (R-Arizona) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) recently sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack challenging the USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program. The letter notes that “[w]hile the concept of educating consumers about production agriculture is a worthwhile endeavor, we have serious misgivings about the direction of the Know Your Farmers program.” The Senators complain that the program does not direct funding to “conventional farmers” but instead is “aimed at small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets.”Supreme Court hears arguments on genetically modified seeds (LA Times)
The battle over genetically modified crops is being waged before the U.S. Supreme Court—the first time the nation’s highest court is specifically weighing in on genetically modified organisms and the federal approval process that allows them to roll out from the laboratory to the nation’s farm fields.Where do farm subsidies go? Now we know! (Food Politics)
Yesterday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the latest update of its highly entertaining farm subsidy database. The links cover $245 billion in federal farm subsidies distributed from 1995 -2009. The site lets you search for subsidies by state, county, congressional district, and specific farm, and by commodity. There is also a national summary.
School FoodD.C. Council approves tough school lunch, exercise standards (Washington Post)
The D.C. Council unanimously approved stringent school nutrition and exercise standards on Tuesday. The measure calls for District public and charter schools to add more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the meals of about 71,000 students. It also encourages schools to buy food from organic farms in Maryland and Virginia, adds thousands of students to the free-lunch program and will eventually triple the amount of time that students have to spend exercising.
An E. coli outbreak possibly linked to tainted lettuce has sickened at least 19 people in Ohio, New York and Michigan, including students on three college campuses, prompting a recall throughout much of the country.
Posted on Wed, March 10, 2010 by Gordon Jenkins
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice will hold the first of five workshops to determine whether a handful of food and farming companies are exercising monopoly control over the industry. This is a big deal. If the Dept. finds that companies like Monsanto are violating antitrust law, regulators could move to break up the companies in order to protect farmers and consumers from further harm.
Fridays workshop takes place in Ankeny, IA, near Des Moines. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney will speak on a panel, as will a selection of crop and livestock farmers from around the country. (The farmers were added at the last-minute amidst outcries that a workshop about agriculture didnt feature any actual farmers.) Other panels will feature a Monsanto Vice President, a former President of the Iowa Soybean Association and a representative from the organization Food & Water Watch.
Farmer and consumer groups who are concerned that the Justice Dept. workshop is bent towards corporate special interests are organizing a Peoples Antitrust Hearing in Ankeny on the evening prior. At the event, Iowa farmers and community leaders will share their perspective on how food company monopolies lead to higher food prices and lower farmer profits.
In December, Slow Food USA joined other groups in asking the public to submit comments to the Justice Dept. The DoJ reported receiving over 15,000 comments, and has begun posting them online.
Posted on Fri, February 26, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
I look back on my school days in Syracuse, NY in the 80s and 90s, and think: we [my classmates] must have been the last of a dying generation. There was no No Child Left Behind debacle, childhood obesity rates werent as high, we ate peanut butter sandwiches with abandon right across from allergic friends, and rarely fast food in school cafeterias.
And gosh darn it, we did walk to school in 6-foot snowdrifts and we brought in homemade cupcakes for birthdays and bake sales. Well, times have changed.
This week, by ruling of the Chancellor of NYCs Department of Ed.s Office of School Food & Nutrition, bringing in homemade baked goods for sale (or celebration) during the school day was effectively banned.
Surprisingly, this addendum was made not with concerns of food safety (allergies, food-borne illness, etc.), but of meeting nutrition standards.
Now Reg. A-812 further delineates that all such competitive foods be in single-serving packaging (none are larger than 1.75 oz.), and contain no more than 200 calories. per serving. Chips, cookies and krispie treats are still acceptable, but they must come from a list of pre-approved items provided by brand-name companies such as Frito-Lay.
Obviously, home-baked goodies arent shrink-wrapped, of uniform size, or sent to a lab to calculate caloric content. Safety would have been a better justification for me personally not adherence to already debatable nutrition standards for occasional fundraisers.
Im all for limiting the empty calories accessible to children in our schools, and increasing the nutritional value of school food. However, inherent in my thinking is a reduction in the presence of brand-name and prepared foods in schools, among other measures.
Posted on Wed, February 10, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
The USDA thinks we (consumers) don’t care about genetically engineered food. So, here’s your chance to tell them they’re wrong about that.
Background: Despite the fact that in 2006 genetically engineered alfafa was declared illegal, it appears that the USDA again intends to deregulate it without any limitations or protections for farmers, consumers or the environment. In addition, the USDA is claiming that there is no evidence that consumers care about GE contamination of organic.
Here’s where you come in: Let them know that you care about GE contamination of organic crops and food—you’ve got until MARCH 3rd.
For all the details about what to say and where to say it—handwritten letters are, as ever, the best—go to Organic Valley’s web site where they’ve got it all laid out clearly.
Posted on Wed, February 03, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Poop and salad: two great tastes that go great together? Bleccccch. Consumer Reports tested bagged leafy greens and found “bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contaminationin some cases, at rather high levels.”
Scale-appropriate legislation: With all of these discoveries of food contamination, there is a need for some regulation—but as the food movement has been squawking about for several months now, it is IMPERATIVE that small and mid sized operations are not thrown in together with the big guys. A new Act on the table might help. As the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition explains: “Fortunately, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has introduced the Growing Safe Food Act (S. 2758) to create a national food safety training and technical assistance program. It would deliver training and technical assistance appropriate to small and mid scale farms to reduce the incidence of food borne illness.” Click here to find out how you can express your support, by urging your Senator to co-sponsor the Growing Safe Food Act (S 2758).
Posted on Mon, February 01, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Jackie Fortin [a closer look at the story we touched on in last week’s “Latest School Lunch News.”]
Lets think about what we give students to ingest, says Mrs. Q, an anonymous Illinois elementary school teacher who is choosing to eat school lunch every day in 2010 and review the results in her blog, Fed Up: School Lunch Project.
Not one to make waves in her professional life, Mrs. Q considers herself a whistleblower for school lunch.
I think every child no matter how much money their family has deserves to eat quality food at school, she said. Most teachers do feel the same way that I do Weve all discussed the lunches and how bad they are in passing. Then we go back to teaching. No one has done much.
Mrs. Qs project, which began Jan. 3, consists of buying a $3.00 school lunch Monday through Friday, bringing it back to her room for a working meal, and taking pictures of each trays plastic-wrapped contents with her phone camera.
Despite her concealed identity, she admits to feeling majorly exposed and nervous about the traffic her blog is getting three weeks deep. I could absolutely lose my job over this, she wrote.
But the overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging comments are piling up. She has been interviewed by Small Bites blogger Andy Bellatti as well as by Robin Shreeves of Mother Nature Network, nutritionist Marion Nestle, Serious Eats, Chow.com, Food Safety News, Diets in Review.com, Treehugger, Grist and several bloggers have all cited Fed Up in online posts.
According to Bellatti, the project, likened to a more realistic Super Size Me…perfectly captures the problems of school lunch poor nutrition, odd flavors and textures, environmental unfriendliness (plastic, plastic, and more plastic!), and the effects of cheap crop subsidies on individual health.
Posted on Thu, January 14, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
As more foodborne illness outbreaks continue to come to light, there is growing demand to know more about where foods originate. When you buy directly from the producer, i.e. at the farm or at the farmers market, there’s no need for fancy gadgets, but when that isn’t possible, you might be interested in a little help from your phone.
Thanks to Bill Marler’s Food Safety News for the tip about HarvestMark. Kind of reminds me of the microchip you can use to find your pet. So, there’s Locavore—which helps you know what’s in season near you—and now YottaMark, Inc. aims to demystify the process that brings produce to market with an iPhone app called HarvestMark. Now you can use your iPhone to trace the origin of those leafy greens you just bought, or are contemplating buying.
How it works: you buy an item with the HarvestMark sticker with a numeric code on it. Then you can go to their website and enter the code located on the product or, just download the HarvestMark application to your phone to access this information before you decide to buy. Here’s what you learn:
which farm was this product grown in
when was it picked
how long it has been in storage
who the middlemen were
TMI? When it comes to learning about where your food comes from, the more the better. And maybe it will help generate even more demand for transparency in food production.
Posted on Mon, January 04, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
What we’ll be talking about this year: Marion Nestle outlines her predictions for the top food news issues for 2010.
Sustainable chef gets a mainstream nod: Yum Sugar readers name Rick Bayless male chef of the year.
Posted on Tue, December 29, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
I just wrote the Department of Justice a long email detailing how, as a consumer, I am affected by corporate control of the food supply. Now it’s your turn. Your voice absolutely matters: they are looking to hear from “average citizens.” Like you. Like me! This is our chance to tell them what’s wrong.
For more details, click here to see our post from last week.
(Many thanks to the US Food Crisis Working Group who have put together sample letters and more topic ideas at www.usfoodcrisisgroup.org)
Slow Food International also runs a publishing company, Slow Food Editore, which specializes in tourism, food and wine. The library now contains about 40 titles and houses Slow, the award-winning quarterly herald of taste and culture, available in five languages: Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.